Conflict & Justice

Former Ford executives indicted for human rights abuses in Argentina


Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (R) and members of the human rights group "Madres de Plaza de Mayo", visit the Navy's Mechanic School (ESMA), the main clandestine torture center during the Argentine military dictatorship (1976-1983), and which will be transformed into a 'Museum of Memory', in Buenos Aires, August 1st, 2005.



Three former executives of US automaker Ford's Argentina unit have been charged with helping officials abduct 24 workers during the country's "dirty war" of the 1970s and 1980s.

The three men — Ford Argentina's former head of manufacturing Pedro Muller, human resources chief Guillermo Galarraga and security manager Hector Francisco Jesus Sibilla, all now in their 80s — allegedly gave the names, pictures and home addresses of the workers security forces, who then hauled two dozen union workers off the floor to be tortured and interrogated and then sent to military prisons.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the men were also accused of allowing the military to establish an interrogation center at the Buenos Aires plant, where some of the victims were subjected to beatings.

The indictments were issued by Judge Alicia Vence in the town of San Martin, just outside Buenos Aires.

The Associated Press wrote that the 150-page indictment "reads like a history lesson,"  detailing why the men's actions constitute crimes against humanity and why it has taken nearly four decades to bring criminal charges.

The military government that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983 is thought to have killed at least 10,000 people and tortured many more.

It targeted trade union leaders, political activists and other dissenters, including left-wing insurgents who are themselves thought to have killed hundreds of civilians, police officers and members of the armed forces.

Current President Cristina Kirchner and her late husband Nestor, who held the office of president before her, led the fight to prosecute human rights abuses committed by the military.

According to the WSJ, Nestor Kirchner campaigned in 2003 on convicting the perpetrators of human rights abuses of the Dirty War.

In 2006 and 2007, federal courts declared unconstitutional pardons that former President Carlos Menem had granted to the military.

The three indicted men — two Argentine and one Czech — were ordered to remain under house arrest on bail of about $142,000 each.